Swim Stuff Part 2
Last time I concentrated on the things you need to actually swim. So this week lets take a look at all of the other things you will fill up your car, home, life, EVERYTHING!
I had no idea that there was so much stuff that you could buy that was associated with swimming outdoors. Much like the swimming itself, once you start accumulating things, you can’t really stop! Let’s start with the most important thing – keeping warm. Before you get in the water it’s really important to keep your body temperature up. If you go in cold water when you’re cold you won’t be able swim for long, and you’re more likely to get really cold, and open yourself up to hyperthermia. So make sure you’ve bundled up in warm trousers, socks, jumper and woolly hat. A woolly hat is life, almost literally. It really does help keep your heat in, and every wild swimmer has one. Some swimmers even swim in their woolly hats!
Also make sure that these items of clothing are big and easy to put on! It’s not a fashion show, and as I’ve mentioned previously no one cares what you look like. Putting tight clothing on over slightly damp salty skin is an absolute nightmare (this is from personal experience!). I’ve even gone so far as to forgo wearing knickers and a bra after a swim (yes everyone, I’ve been going commando all this time and you never knew!!!). Any woman will understand, putting on a bra under a towel, over damp skin (when your hands are shaking in the cold!) is nigh on impossible. Just wear a crop top or something instead, it’s not worth the hassle! Also the longer you take to get dressed after a swim, the less time you have for coffee and cake after…
You will find yourself drawn to items of clothing you had never looked twice at before, I’ve seen some swimmers going down to the beach in fur lined crocs, waterproof and cozy, genius. You will also have a better appreciation of what items in your current wardrobe are great at keeping you warm (my fleece lined leggings) and also those that are rubbish (my padded coat [who knew!]). Anything goes when it comes to what to wear after the swim, as long as it keeps you warm (I’m going to be rocking up in my Care Bear onesie this winter!).
There are also LOADs of random accessories that go with wild swimming. One of the most useful I’ve found is my surf lock. It’s a giant combination padlock you can secure to the handle of your car door, which has a space inside for your car keys. This means you don’t have to risk leaving them out in public (you people are so trusting!) or take it with you on the swim (rusty car keys are a no-no!).
Another handy tip I’ve learnt was taking a big bottle of tap water with me to my swim. When you come out you can pour it over your feet and legs to get the sand/mud off, and it also helps you to warm up. If you combine this with a spare car mat or door mat to stand on, you are off to a winner when it comes to getting changed. No more sandy socks, and also the mat protects you against any pointy stuff like broken glass that might be around (sad but often true in car parks).
Once thing that I’ve not bought (yet) but lots of people own, is a tow float. They’re an inflatable thing on a strap that you attach to your waist and it floats behind you when you swim (think of those red things that they used to use in Baywatch!).
They’re super neon so you can be seen easily, and some of them are so buoyant that you can hold onto them and have a little rest if you get tired. Some of them even have space inside where you can put keys, phone, camera, even shoes and a change of clothes! If you were going out on your own they provide you with a bit of peace of mind, no ones gonna miss you with one of those bobbing beside you. However in the sea they might be a bit of a hinderance, especially when it’s a bit wavy, as the float will get caught in the wave and pull you back. I really like the idea of having one with lots of space inside, so I could go for a long swim, then get out and have a lovely walk back to the car. Oh and also, some events require you to swim with one, so it might be worth it if that’s what interests you, so you can get used to how it feels.
So this has been rather a long post, hopefully it’s helped you a bit when it comes to what stuff you need. I guess what I’ve really learnt about swim stuff, is you can try lots of things and see what works for you. For example, I wore a rash guard, boots and gloves when I first started sea swimming. I’ve discarded all of those now as I found they were hampering my stroke, and I like to feel the water on my arms and feet! I also prefer a thinner silicone hat, as thicker ones tend to ride up and pop off my massive head (clearly cos it’s full of brain!). I know I’ll definitely do a follow up post to this in a few months, I’m sure there will be more “swim stuff” that I pick up on my wild swimming journey!
Oh and also, you will probably have duplicates of everything so you can keep a spare kit in your car, just in case 😉
Hints and tips:
Go for easy rather than stylish
Woolly hats are life
I want to hear from you!!
If there are any more seasoned swimmers reading this I would love to hear what you have in your kit! What things could you not live without when it comes to swimming? Also, are you skins or suits, and why?